In the present day, excessive social media use has become synonymous with the younger generation. Prolonged social media interaction has resulted in new terminology describing the compulsive need for internet and social media use: internet addiction. This is a new term, and while it has not been defined as a clinical addiction used in acute care settings (Zahrai et al., 2022), it is important to understand its symptoms, like excessive social media use. Given the rapid speed of social media integration in modern society, it is important to investigate how excessive social media use (ESMU), as defined by Zahrai et al., 2022, affects the way information is trusted. The present study intends to contribute to the understanding of trust dynamics in the era of mass media consumption, thereby studying if college students with ESMU show signs of trust when viewing a news report from a TikTok video, or from a video emulating a traditional news presentation. Another area of investigation for the current study is if the presence of a beauty filter placed on the presenter affects the trust of the participants. Further, if sex at birth has a significant difference in TikTok compulsivity (as defined by Meerkerk et. al, 2009 internet compulsivity scale), trust in news media, and trust in the studies presentation. 94 participants, who were all aged 18 or older and undergraduate students at the University of Central Florida living in the United States, completed an online survey-based questionnaire. The study consisted of a TikTok-modified Compulsive Internet Use Scale (CIUS), a Trust in News Media Scale, and a post-experiment-questionnaire. Participants were randomly assigned one of four fake-news presentations. All the videos had the same presenter and script, but differed in orientation (either horizontal, like a news story seen on a television, or vertical, like a TikTok video) and if there was a beauty filter placed upon the presenter. This created four conditions for participants. The results suggest that there is no difference in trust between any of the video conditions, regardless of orientation or filter. Furthermore, the results indicate that males have less TikTok compulsivity compared to females. In conclusion, the results suggest that there are differences in the sexes when it comes to TikTok compulsivity, however this does not affect the way individuals trust a news presentation. Furthermore, there is no difference in sex when it comes to trusting the news media. This suggests that college students with ESMU are spending more time on TikTok, and not displaying a deferral of risk when it comes to consuming information from the news. Further, college students with ESMU are not affected by a filter or the orientation of a video when receiving news. This indicates that they are both equally distrusting and trusting of news regardless of the platform it is received.
Bachelor of Science (B.S.)
College of Sciences
McCarthy, Ula J., "Researching How Excess Social Media Use and Filters Affect Trust" (2023). Honors Undergraduate Theses. 1455.